AsZension may be a new name for readers of this website, but the Canadian progressive rock band led by composer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Thiessen has three studio albums under their belt. The newest one, Portals, was released in September. Rocking Charts talked with Kevin about this new material.
Hey Kevin. How are you doing?
I am doing good.
You have just released a new album titled Portals. How do you feel about the release?
Very pleased. It was a lot of fun to work on and I am happy with the end result.
How much of a challenge was it to work on the album?
Working on Portals required a good deal of focus. Mainly in the aspect of rhythm. Trying to nail the tempo and feel of each track. The songwriting and recording aspects went smoothly, and I also had extra help in the artwork and mastering departments. Which made life easier.
What other Canadian artists similar to your genre are you friends with?
There are several, but to name some friends I’ve also worked with; visionary artist and musician Simon Haiduk, who designed the artwork for Portals. Drea Drury from Anilah, who has a great album out called Warrior, which I played on and co-produced.
What is your opinion about the current progressive scene?
I think it’s great. There are a vast amount of new bands emerging every year, all with their own unique sound. And with the internet, you’re able to hear about them way more. Many of the veterans from past decades are still going strong and pushing the boundaries. So there should be a plethora of good prog for many years to come.
Can you tell me something about your influences?
Musically, I am influenced by a lot of prog bands and musicians from the 70’s and 80’s and also ones that are still current.
What are you listening to these days?
Lately it’s been lots of Yes, Marillion, Katatonia. A bit of Vangelis here and there, some soundtracks by John Williams and whatever else comes my way on the web.
Your 5 favourite records of all time?
That’s tough. I would have to say Permanent Waves by Rush, Images and Words by Dream Theater, The Odyssey by Symphony X, Saurian Meditations by Karl Sanders and Moonbabies by Planet X.
Can you tell me a little bit more about the gear you used to record Portals?
As far as guitars:
Ibanez RG 1527 Prestige 7 string with Dimarzio D Activator 7 pickups.
ESP LTD SC-608B 8 string with EMG 808 active pickups.
Both using D’Addario strings, Dunlop max grip jazz III picks and played through an Art tps II preamp and an Axe fx II by Fractal Audio Systems.
For my own synth parts, I used an assortment of different midi controllers, drum pads and vst Instruments. Mostly software by EastWest and Native Instruments.
Besides the release of the album, are there any other plans for the future?
Doing some shows in support of Portals is a main priority. Aside from that, I hope to finish off some unreleased material from a few different projects. A few compilations, a 5.1 surround sound mix and a re-master or two. Things like that.
Any words for the potential new fans?
Thanks for taking the time to read this. You can listen to Portals on the official Aszension website www.aszension.com. If you like what you hear, subscribe to our mailing list for news, free music and more.